FG plans second runway for Abuja airport

FG plans second runway for Abuja airportIn its bid to forestall a future closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Federal Government on Tuesday stated that it would construct a second runway at the airport in the next 24 months.

It also announced that plans were on the way to use Nigerian airlines and some foreign carriers to operate from the Kaduna International Airport to London, following the refusal of international airlines like British Airways and Lufthansa to fly into Kaduna.

The Minister of State of Aviation, Senator HadiSirika, said these while responding to questions from journalists after inspecting activities at the Kaduna airport.

Sirika and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, accessed activities at the KIA, which currently serves as an alternative to the Abuja airport that has been shut to effect repairs on its runway and taxiways.

Speaking on plans for a second runway at the NAIA, Sirika stated that the move was to ensure that in the future, there would not be a need to close the Abuja airport as a result of repairs on its runway.

He stated that the proposed runway should be ready in 24 months and expressed hope that it would get the required approval from the Federal Executive Council.

The minister said, “There is a plan by government to squeeze in within the 2017 budget to have a second runway in Abuja. However, we need to learn from previous mistakes. Since 1995, I, as a person, has been campaigning for a second runway in Abuja because of safety and to make the airport more efficient. But it fell on deaf ears.

“We were lucky during the time of (the late) President UmaruYar’Adua that the government saw reason as to why there should be a second runway. But this idea was condemned, with people saying that the money was too much. Alternatively, you would have campaigned against the cost, but support the project. So kill the cost, don’t kill the project.”

Sirika added, “So, yes there will be a second runway in Abuja. Hopefully, within the next 24 months we will have a new runway. There is a second runway in Kano, a military runway; a second runway in Lagos and a second runway in Port Harcourt. So, they have second runways and I think the focus of government now within the limited resources is to do a second runway in Abuja.

“The remaining work, during the concession process, if we need additional runway, the man who wins the concession should be able to give us the additional runway.”

He explained that once the process for the building of the runway commenced, it should be achieved within 24 months.

The minister, however, noted that any delay in the budget might shift the completion date of the second runway as the ministry was working hard to ensure that the project was completed fast in order to forestall any future closure of the Abuja airport as a result of runway issues.

On whether other foreign carriers were now willing to join Ethiopian Airlines to operate into the Kaduna airport in the coming weeks, Sirika noted that he was still in talks with the carriers, but revealed that the government would use a domestic airline on the Kaduna-London route.

In his address, Mohammed stated that the Federal Government had no option but to close the Abuja airport as its runway would have resulted in a disaster.

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